For years the word liberal was used as a pejorative by conservatives. To be a liberal was bad, evil, you would expect horns to come out of an accused liberal at any time. This is the first election in some time where people are identifying with the word liberal with ever increasing numbers.

But for some it is not good enough to be a liberal. The new word is Progressive. For years the word was used as a substitute for liberal. If you were a liberal, you used it to protect yourself from being accused of being that dreaded word, Liberal. But now for some, they want to distinguish themselves from being a liberal by claiming to be a Progressive.

It is interesting to see this transformation. You might need a dictionary to keep things straight.

Conservatives have a similar problem. You hear the refrain are you a True Conservative?

I am having a problem with these labels and what they all mean. I think that if you are a progressive in the Bernie Sanders world, you are a social democrat, and there is a very real difference between being a Liberal and being a Social Democrat. Worse still is the feeling that Progressives do not want to be associated with Liberals because they are too conservative.

Let us see if defining the words will help! I am older from the baby boom generation, and I still identify with being a liberal. “A classic liberal is a political ideology which advocates civil liberties and political freedom with representative government under the rule of law.” Economic freedom was also stressed.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. helped define what a classic liberal is. He was highly influenced by the era of Franklin Roosevelt. He stated that ” When the growing complexity of industrial conditions required increasing government intervention in order to assure more equal opportunity, the liberal tradition, faithful to the goal, than to the dogma, altered it’s vision of the state, and there emerged the concept of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labor, to regulate the methods of business competitively and to establish comprehensive patterns of social security.”

Thomas Hobbes contributed to this discussion by saying that “government has been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another, and that the purpose of government should be to minimize conflict between individuals that would otherwise arise in a state of nature.”

Are we witnessing an argument between friends or is there a real difference between a liberal and a progressive? A social democrat has been described as a political movement that is advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means.

It would seem that social democrats want to move away from capitalism to socialism while liberals want to manage capitalism and control its greed.

One could argue that the main difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is that she is a liberal in the classic liberal tradition and he is a socialist who wants to rid society of capitalism and at best turn the country into a social democracy.

Most Americans are rejecting the appeal for social democracy and are in the main supporting the ideas of FDR who did not want to get rid of capitalism but rather manage the greed of those who were capitalists.


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